10 Hospital Technologies to Watch Carefully

Cheryl Clark, January 9, 2012

Just in case some hospital chiefs have millions in the coffers to spend but can't figure out what to buy, a report by the ECRI Institute lists ten high-priced gadgets and systems that bear at least a look.

"Hospitals have very high pressure on their budgets right now," says Diane Robertson, director of ECRI's health technology assessment information service which helped prepare "Top 10 C-Suite Watch List: Hospital Technology Issues for 2012."

"We see them paying more attention to clinical evidence, and more attention to incorporating processes to rationalize their decision-making on where they are going to allocate resources...understanding all the issues, so they're not unaware of something they need to be aware of," she says.

In some cases, such as proton beam or carbon ion radiation treatment centers, for example, "these are $200 million decisions," Robertson says.   And in the case of proton beam therapy, "there's still no evidence that shows it's any better than standard photon therapy," even as carbon ion technology, requiring a separate major investment, is now underway in Europe and may be more effective at treating cancer.

The report looks at the promise and cost of surgical tools and techniques, emerging drugs and devices, genotype personalized medicine, and examines in each case whether they are ready for prime time, what pros and cons to weigh.

"Careful consideration of all the factors affecting whether and how to adopt these new interventions will be crucial for short- and long-term strategic planning, effective implementation, and optimal safety and effectiveness for patients," the report says. It adds to and updates the organization's 2009 similarly titled report.


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